In order to redeem someone, there are certain requirements you must meet. In this message from David Platt, we’ll see how Boaz fulfilled these requirements in Ruth 3–4. We’ll also see how Boaz’s act of kindness pointed to something, or Someone, much greater. The story of Ruth ultimately points us to what God has done for us through Christ our Redeemer. We have been brought from death to life, from despair to hope.
- Requirements of a redeemer.
- Picture of redemption.
- Our hope of redemption.
Advent: Hope for the Hurting, Part 3
If you have a Bible—and I hope you do—let me invite you to open with me to Ruth 3. Is not the book of Ruth incredible? Today we come to part three of three in this lead-up to Christmas in the book of Ruth. For those of you who are wondering what in the world this story has to do with Christmas, today is your day. Today we come to the climax of this story, to the ending of all endings and the surprise of all surprises.
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie when something happens at the end that makes you look back at everything that happened before and think, “Now it all makes sense”? That’s going to happen today in a way that I pray will encourage you and maybe change your life. I know there are people visiting here today, some may be home from college or visiting family or friends here at Christmas. Regardless of the reason, I don’t believe it is an accident that any one of you is here today to hear this story that has the power to change your life. Some of you might find yourselves putting on one of these tee shirts and being baptized as a follower of Jesus in a way that you did not see coming.
We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s jump right in. If you’ve missed one or both of the last two weeks, let me summarize the story so far. It all started when Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and their two sons left the Promised Land of Bethlehem and moved to the despised land of Moab. After they were in Moab, Elimelech died and both of Naomi’s sons died. She was left with two Moabite daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. Naomi decided to go back to Bethlehem, Orpah stayed in Moab, but Ruth committed herself to Naomi. So they came back to Bethlehem with two main problems that the story needs to solve. First, they needed food and provisions. Secondly, they needed family to take care of them. When Naomi came back to Bethlehem, she was hurting with no hope of either of those problems being solved. All she had at this point was a despised Moabite daughter-in-law named Ruth by her side.
Until one day, that daughter-in-law just so happened to find herself in the fields of Boaz, a knight in shining armor from the clan of Elimelech. Boaz went out of his way to provide for and protect Ruth, then a romantic chapter two closed with the first need met. Ruth and Naomi had food. But they still lacked family and Boaz didn’t seem to be taking any initiative to solve that problem. This is where we left off last week. We read the beginning of chapter three, as Naomi concocted a plan for Ruth to take some initiative, going at night to Boaz on the threshing floor, lying down next to him and uncovering his feet. We’re not sure what all that means, but we do know this was daring and dangerous.
The Book of Ruth in Pictures
I need to pause here and show you some art that one of the kids drew last Sunday during the sermon. This is the book of Ruth in pictures. At the bottom, you have Ruth gleaning in Boaz’s fields. In the middle, you have Naomi shouting at Ruth, telling her what to do. Then at the top of the page, you have Ruth laying down at Boaz’s feet at night. Tasteful—not too graphic—it’s good.
One of my kids last night said, “Dad, tomorrow is part three. Does Ruth uncover the right legs?” Let us see. We’ll begin in Ruth 3:6:
6 So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. 7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain.
Can you imagine this? Put yourself in Ruth’s shoes at this point. She has snuck into some hiding place near the threshing floor. She’s sitting there quietly watching. This is intense. You can almost hear her heart beating nervously. This is romantic. She is watching her man winnow. As his work draws to a close, he goes to the far end of the grain pile where no one else happens to be, lies down, looks up at the stars and quietly drifts off to sleep—all while Ruth sits back waiting for clues to know when he’s fallen asleep.
I think about nights when my kids were babies and we were trying to get them to sleep. I’d lay them down in their crib and rub their backs until they fell asleep. I’d watching, thinking, “Okay, I think they’re asleep now and I can make my exit.” I’d slowly lift my hand up and stop rubbing their back, but they’d just pop up as if to say, “So soon? No.” I’d put them back down and just rub again. You’ve been there before.
So Ruth does not want to move too soon. She waits until it’s time. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down.
Whoa. There she is. She has done it. Ruth has uncovered Boaz’s feet. She’s laying down either perpendicular or parallel to him. We don’t know. What we do know is that her heart is beating really fast right now and the audience is squirming with fear and excitement. What is going to happen next?
8 At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! Something startled him.
Most commentators think the cool breeze on his legs probably kicked in and woke him. So he reaches over to cover himself and to his amazement, he sees a woman. “Behold,” the text says, “a woman.” Undoubtedly Ruth was awake. It’s not like she could have easily fallen asleep there, lying right next to Boaz. So she’s laying there looking at him, just waiting for the moment that he wakes up.
I think about times as a dad when I’ve either fallen asleep on the couch or in bed, and all of a sudden I sense something waking me up. My eyes open and I see two eyeballs right in front of me. One of my kids is standing there, two inches from my face, then as soon as my eyes open they say, “Want to come out and play with me?” That’s what I’m picturing here. Boaz rolls over, opens his eyes and two eyes are just staring right back at him. Here’s what I love. Listen to what he says.
9 He said, “Who are you?”
Who is Ruth?
I want to know how he said that. I wish we had a little more on the tone. What was the sound of Boaz’s voice here? There are so many different options. Was it a confused “Who are you?” Or was it a shock and awe, “Who are you?” Or was it a simple whisper, “Who are you?” I don’t know. But this question is so significant because this is the question of the book. Who is Ruth? A Moabite? Because she looks like an Israelite in this whole story. Who is this woman?
Ruth responds. She has referred to herself as Boaz’s servant once already in the book, using a word that meant someone on the lowest rung of the social ladder (2:13). But here, even though it’s translated the same, it’s actually a different word in the original language of the Old Testament. The word here refers to a woman who is eligible for marriage. This leads directly into Ruth’s next statement:
And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
This is where things get really interesting, because if you notice, Ruth just left Naomi’s game plan behind. Naomi had said, “Uncover his feet and he will tell you what to do.” After she identifies herself, the audience who is listening to this story is waiting now for Boaz to have the next word. But instead Ruth keeps going, saying, “Spread your wings over your servant.” That was a common phrase for the protection a husband would give his wife in marriage. Talk about bold. The audience is now wondering what in the world has gotten into Ruth. She just outright said, “You’re a redeemer, which means you can marry me.” This is extraordinary—a servant telling her boss he can marry her. A Moabite telling an Israelite what he can do. A poor woman giving instructions to a rich man. This is forward, to say the least.
Ruth Appeals to Boaz
Ruth uses the same language Boaz had used back in chapter two, when he prayed that the Lord would give Ruth refuge under His wings. Ruth has just said, “Hey, Boaz. You know that prayer you prayed for me? Well, you can be the answer to that prayer, if you will take me under your wings as your wife.” You’ve got to love it when your wife uses Scripture on you. But the picture here is bigger even than just about Ruth. As a redeemer, there would be a responsibility to care for Naomi also. Ruth is appealing to Boaz to protect not only her, but her family.
So the audience waits to see what in the world Boaz is going to do. You can feel the tension in the air. Imagine the shock on Boaz’s face and the thoughts running through is head as Ruth speaks to him. Then, finally, he responds:
10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.
Ahh. We breathe a sigh of relief. He speaks to her in kind, affectionate terms: “My daughter.” Now it’s clear that even amidst the sensual overtones of this scene, Boaz has no intention of taking advantage of her in any way. He is struck now for the second time by her kindness, which by the way is the word hesed —lovingkindness—which we talked about last week. Boaz continues:
11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.
Paralleling Ruth 3 and Proverbs 31
Do you want to know something really interesting here? The original order of the Hebrew Bible is different from the ordering of our Old Testament. Many people believe the book of Ruth originally came right after the book of Proverbs. Imagine finishing Proverbs 31 that speaks of the excellent wife, then turning the page and reading the story of Ruth. Coming to Ruth 3:11, it’s the exact same language in the Hebrew that’s used in Proverbs 31 to describe that woman. This is so good.
At this point, we’re ready to see this marriage happen, like right now. We can almost hear the wedding bells in the background. But listen to what Boaz says to Ruth:
12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I.
Oh, no. We have a problem. There is somebody else. There’s another guy who has the first right to redeem, provide for and care for Ruth and Naomi. I’ll explain more about that in a minute, but Boaz explains this to Ruth:
13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”
The Integrity of Boaz
Boaz says to Ruth, “Stay here by my side. You don’t need to be out in the middle of the night alone at this point. First thing in the morning, I’m going to go see if this other man wants to redeem you—which he can.” See the integrity of Boaz here. He’s a man of noble character. But he also says, “If this guy won’t redeem you, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.” With that, they fall asleep. Or maybe not. I’ve got a feeling both of them were lying there thinking, “What in the world just happened?” Boaz is thinking, “She came after me. She wants to marry me.” Ruth is realizing, “Tomorrow I’m going to find out who’s going to marry me—either Boaz or this other guy I don’t even know.” Regardless, she knows that tomorrow everything is going to change in her life. And with that, the two of them lie there looking up into the stars.
14 So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.”
Boaz says, “Get up and let this be our little secret.”
15 And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city.
He’s going to make sure she’s provided for—six measures of barley. Some have estimated this could be up to about 75 pounds, but she carried it home. I’m telling you—Ruth did CrossFit. She comes back to Naomi, who probably hasn’t slept all night either. Can you just imagine Naomi back home, pacing back and forth across the floor, praying and occasionally peeking out the door, looking to see if anything has gone wrong, if Ruth is headed back home.
16 And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?”
The language there is interesting. What she literally said was, “Who are you, my daughter?” Now, it’s translated this way because that’s the meaning behind the language—“How did things go?”—but it’s basically saying, “Are you going to be his wife or not?” Is she becoming an Israelite, part of God’s people, or not?
Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying…
Now, before we read verse 17, I want you to notice something really important. Ruth is about to mention something Boaz said, but we as the audience didn’t hear this when he said it. The author waits until Naomi is there to hear what Boaz said:
“These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’”
“Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.” You might circle that word, “emptyhanded.” We’ve already seen the word translated “empty-handed” one other time in this book. Look at Ruth 1:21 when Naomi said, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” The author is making a clear point here and does not want us to miss it—God does not leave His people empty.
18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.”
In other words, “Sit tight, Ruth. It’s not going to be long. Today is the day.” Interestingly, these are the last words we will hear in the book from either Ruth or Naomi, as what unfolds next is out of their hands. The screen goes dark at the end of chapter three and opens up on Ruth 4:1 with Boaz front and center.
Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by.
Redemption of Family in Ruth 4
Let’s pause here to make sure we’re on the same page. When we see this word “redeemer,” we need to realize the background. I wish we had time to turn there, but look at these two passages. Leviticus 25:24-27 explains that when tragedy struck a family, a redeemer could keep their land in the family by redeeming it. Then Deuteronomy 25:5-10 states that if a brother dies without a son, then his family would be provided for by his nearest male relative, who would redeem that family and take responsibility for providing a son to carry on that family. There was a succession of relatives who could redeem.
So the picture here in Ruth is that there is another man who is in line before Boaz to be able to redeem Elimelech’s property and family. So we read in Ruth 3 that Boaz goes and sits down at the town gate—and as in chapter two, the language is dramatic here—and behold, this other guy just so happens to come by.
So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down.
The language here is so great. The word “friend” here is a Hebrew idiom that is basically like saying, “Hey, Mr. So-and-So…” The author intentionally does not give us this guy’s name. Boaz knows his name and the author likely knows his name, but he intentionally leaves the guy nameless. It’s kind of like when you forget somebody’s name that you’re supposed to know. They walk up to you and you think, “Ah, I can’t remember, I can’t remember…” You go through the alphabet and all kinds of potential names, but it doesn’t come to you. “Hey, Bro. What’s up, man, buddy, pal?” This is important, because the author is intentionally creating a negative impression of this guy. He’s Mr. Nobody. Then listen to what Boaz does:
2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down.
These elders were basically the witnesses to the transaction agreement that was about to take place. Doubtless others at the city gate who were walking by would now stop and listen in, then by the end a crowd would be watching these proceedings. But listen to how sly Boaz is:
3 Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.”
Now, that sounds like an offer that Mr. What’s-His-Name can’t refuse. Which begs the question: what in the world is Boaz doing here? Boaz just said, “Naomi, this widow from our relative Elimelech, has a pretty nice piece of land that is available for redemption.” This would have been a no-brainer for any redeemer. As long as he had enough money to purchase the land, he could have that land in his family as his inheritance—and along with it he would have Naomi. She would not require much from him, which means his investment would pay off big time for his family. So Mr. Random Dude says at the end of verse four:
“I will redeem it.”
As soon as he says those words, our hearts sink. What was Boaz thinking? He just laid out this deal on a golden platter and this guy took it. I mean, Boaz is noble, but this is taking things too far. We don’t know, but imagine that Ruth and Naomi had snuck into the background and were watching this unfold? Imagine the look on their faces when Mr. Nobody says, “I will redeem it.” It would be maddening if this book stopped at Ruth 4:4, with Ruth and Mr. Who Cares riding off together into the distance. No! Ruth and Mr. What’s-His-Name are together, while Boaz sits there dumbfounded. Naomi looks at him and says, “You blew it, man. I used to be Bitter—now call me Livid. Fuming is my name.”
But thankfully Boaz is not finished. He speaks up again:
5 Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.”
Boaz’s Plan as a Redeemer
Boaz knows what he’s doing. “Hey, one small note.” He had mentioned Naomi before, but now he says, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth….oh, did I mention Ruth? Yeah, there’s not just a widow in this picture to take care. There’s another woman to take care of. And did I mention she’s a Moabite? Yeah, you remember that day when 24,000 Israelites were struck dead because of Moabite women? Yeah, she’s one of them. You will acquire her too.”
Boaz is good, because this just changed everything. This is no longer about merely acquiring land; this is much deeper than that. Since Naomi was past child-rearing age, all the kinsman was thinking was that he would have to care for this widow in her old age which should not involve much. The investment he would get in return would be great. But if Ruth, who was of child-bearing age is in the picture, this man would be responsible for her—and not just her, based on Deuteronomy 25, but responsible for providing her with a son. The son would then assume the rights to that property and that land.
So basically if this guy takes the land and Naomi and Ruth, then when he has a child with Ruth, that inheritance will go to that child and his descendants. So now he’s facing the possibility of having to provide for both of these women in addition to potential children in the future, the first of which is going to inherit all this land that he’s about to pay for. Oh, and by the way, the child will come from a marriage to a Moabite. All of a sudden this deal isn’t looking so great anymore. We’re sitting on the edge, wondering if Boaz’ plan for this conversation is going to work.
6 Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.”
Ahh. This is where the music starts to swell in the background. He did it! Boaz did it! Mr. So-and So, see you later. Boaz step to the front.
7 Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. 8 So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal.
This handing over of the sandal represented the right to yield property, land and family. Now the music is blaring in the background, as Boaz takes off the sandal. The crowd erupts into applause. Then the scene dramatically quiets down and Boaz gives an impassioned speech—his last words in the book:
9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. 10 Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife…”
Did you see what just happened? Ruth the Moabite—the outcast, foreigner, servant—just became a part of the people of God:
“…to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place.”
This family’s name will not disappear. It will be maintained. Remember, that’s the problem that was set up at the beginning of the book and Boaz is now set to solve it.
“You are witnesses this day.” 11 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel.”
What a prayer! May this childless woman be fertile. Rachel and Leah had 12 sons between the two of them, who would lead the 12 tribes of Israel. It’s quite a prayer.
May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, 12 and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.”
Ah, I wish we had time to look at Genesis 38, the story of Tamar, a Canaanite woman who carried on the line of Judah. There’s so much there. But the point is these witnesses pray for God’s blessing on Boaz and Ruth’s life.
13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.
The Two Problems of Ruth 3 and Ruth 4 Solved
Do you know what’s so interesting about this story? You have all this build-up in chapter two to talk about one day in the field, then all of chapter three to talk about one tense night on the threshing floor. All this build-up, over 12 verses in chapter four, at the town gate, then in one verse, they get married and have a baby. Just like that. And just like that, the two problems introduced at the start of the story are solved: food and family.
Did you notice the subtle picture the author gives us? Highlight it so you don’t miss it. Right in the middle of verse 13, the Bible says, “The Lord gave her conception.” We see the Lord God behind the scenes throughout the book, but two times the author makes sure we don’t miss His presence. The first is back in Ruth 1:6 when the Lord provided food in Bethlehem. Now here in Ruth 4:13, the Lord gave her conception. The Lord provided family. Don’t miss it. The Lord God is the only One Who can provide for your deepest needs.
14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!
The scene now is a birthday party where a lot of ladies are partying. The spotlight now shifts to Naomi. It’s funny how Ruth and Boaz are hardly even mentioned here. Instead, the character in the spotlight at the start of the story is brought back to the spotlight in the finish. The one who was woefully bitter is now wonderfully blessed. These women give credit where credit is due: “Blessed be the Lord.” It’s interesting that the child is actually called the redeemer here. It’s the only time in the Old Testament where this term is used to refer to anyone but an adult. The picture here is that this child will be the one to inherit the property and carry on the family. Remember that.
15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughterin-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”
What a great picture! This baby is better than seven sons, the number for perfection and completion in the Old Testament. This woman who had lost her two sons and who had come back to Bethlehem with a Moabite daughter-in-law now had what was better than the most perfect son she could have imagined.
This is the point where we all let out a sigh of relief. We look at each other and say, “That was a great story.”
16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.
This is the moment where we start gathering our things to get up and walk out of the theater. We’re ready to leave, we rise from our seats, walking out. But have you ever gone to a movie, the credits start as you’re walking out, but all of a sudden something else pops up on the screen? Maybe you’re almost out of the theater when you hear one of the characters come back on. You go running back in to see what’s happening—a post-credit scene. That’s the feeling we get here in verse 17. The story has been awesome, but listen to what happens:
17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth 4 and the Genealogy of King David
What? This is the story of how we got King David, Israel’s most famous king? What? Ruth is King David’s great-grandmother? Ha! Who knew? This just took things to a whole new level. Do you realize what just happened? God just used a Moabite woman in an otherwise hopeless Israelite family to bring about the future king of Israel.
The book ends with a genealogy. I want you to read this with me. These are the parts of the Bible we kind of skip over, right? Just a bunch of names. But count with me how many generations are mentioned here:
18 Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, 19 Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21 Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22 Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.
Did you count them? How many are there? Ten generations. Ten is symbolic. Think about ten years of death and barrenness in Moab in the beginning of this story. Think about Israelite law that said no Moabite shall be welcome into the assembly “down to the tenth generation.” The book ends with ten generations from Perez. The book that began with “In the days when the judges ruled…” ends with the introduction of Israel’s most famous king. How about that? Is that incredible, or what?
The Importance of a Redeemer in Ruth 3 and 4
Here’s the question: what does that mean? Why would God want this story to be preserved for thousands of years and what in the world does this story have to do with you today? This story is part of a much, much bigger story that involves you, right where you are sitting today. I want you to think about this word “redeemer” that we’ve seen all over this story, particularly today—this person who pays a price to provide for someone or something else, particularly someone in need.
Requirements of a Redeemer
This whole story hinges on three requirements of a redeemer. Whether it was Boaz or Mr. What’sHis-Name, in order to redeem, one must have the right to redeem, one had to be a near relative—close in the family line. Second, one must have the resources to redeem. A redeemer had to be able to pay a redemption price. A redeemer needed the resources to purchase property and to provide for a family.
Then third, one must have the resolve to redeem, which is what Mr. So-and-So did not have. He had the right to redeem and from all we can tell he had the resources to redeem, but he didn’t have the resolve. It would not be advantageous for him to redeem, so he did not do it. It was too costly for him. Boaz, though, had all three: the right, the resources and the resolve. Even though it was risky for him to marry a Moabite woman, he gladly took the risk. Why? Because of the other important word in the book: hesed, which means lovingkindness. It is a kind of love that willingly takes risks to provide for someone else.
Pictures of Redemption in Ruth 3 and 4
So we have this portrait in the Bible of a redeemer who in his lovingkindness provides for those in need. This leads us to a beautiful and powerful picture of redemption at the end of the story. Think with me just for a minute about the contrast between Naomi at the start of the story and Naomi at the end of the story, thinking about the pictures of redemption we have in this story. Each one of these pictures revolves around this baby who is now called a redeemer. You have a redeemer who brings about redemption in these ways.
First, God brings His people from death to life. The story of Ruth opens with three funerals and closes with a wedding and a birth. God brings His people from death to life. God brings His people from curse to blessing. In Ruth 1, Naomi had the curse of all curses: she was a widow with no heir. In chapter four, she’s holding an heir in her hands as the women bless her. God brings His people from curse to blessing.
God also brings His people from bitterness to happiness. Can you just imagine the smile on Naomi’s face as she looks down at Obed? “Don’t call me Bitter anymore. Call me Ecstatic. Call me Thrilled.” God brings His people from bitterness to happiness.
He also brings His people from emptiness to fullness. At the end of chapter one, Naomi opens her hands and says to the women of Bethlehem, “I have nothing.” At the end of chapter four, Naomi folds her arms around a precious little baby, as the women of Bethlehem say, “You have everything.”
From death to life, curse to blessing, bitterness to happiness, emptiness to fullness—and ultimately, God brings His people from despair to hope. The story ends, not by looking back at a painful past, but by looking forward into a joyful future through this child. But that’s not all, because there is one more post-credit scene that we cannot miss.
Our Hope of Redemption
This story doesn’t actually end in Ruth 4. Turn with me to Matthew 1, the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament. Matthew writes this book specifically to Jewish readers who would have been familiar with all the stories in the Old Testament, including Ruth’s story. So let me show you the next time we see Boaz and the next time we see Ruth in the Bible. Start with me in Matthew 1:5.
In this list of names, we read, “And Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab…” By the way, Boaz’s mother was Rahab, the Gentile prostitute of Judges 2. Do you think that had something to do with why Boaz was so sensitive to the needs of an outcast, despised Moabite woman named Ruth? “And Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth…” There they are: Boaz, Obed and Ruth.
“And Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king…” Which is where the book of Ruth ended. But here the names continue—all the way down to verse 16, where we read, “And Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.”
If only the Old Testament hearers could have seen where the real end of this story was going, they would have been sitting in the theater for a long time. This love story hidden away in the Old Testament is intended to point us to a much greater love story highlighted in the New Testament where we see a picture of our hope for redemption. So don’t miss this. The story of Ruth is not ultimately about redemption through a baby born in Bethlehem named Obed. The story of Ruth is ultimately about redemption through a Baby born in Bethlehem named Jesus. The story of Ruth ultimately points us to the love of Jesus, our Redeemer.
Our Similarity to Ruth
So what does this story have to do with you and me? Here you and I sit, sinners in a world of suffering, separated from God, destined for eternal death and suffering as the curse of sin in our lives and in the world around us. But ladies and gentlemen, that does not have to be the end of your story. Sin and pain and suffering do not have to be the end of your story. Do you know why? Because a Redeemer has come and His name is Jesus.
Let’s ask a few questions.
One, does He have the right to redeem us? Absolutely He does. Jesus is like us in every way. He was born like us. This is the miracle of Christmas. God has come to us in a robe of human flesh like us. He is near to us, our Kinsman.
Two, does He have the resources to redeem us? Absolutely He does. He has perfect power and complete authority over skies and seas, over sickness and disease, over sin and suffering, over death and the grave. Without question, Jesus has the resources to redeem us.
Three, does He have the resolve to redeem you and me? See Him on a cross where He willingly took the judgment upon Himself that you and I deserve—the death you and I deserve—as He suffered to pay the redemption price for all our sin.
Jesus Has Paid the Price
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the love story of all love stories. The Baby born in Bethlehem, Jesus, has the right, the resources and the resolve to redeem you. Jesus has done it. Jesus has paid the price for you. He didn’t just do it for the person next to you or in front of you—but you, right where you’re sitting. He’s paid the price for you, a sinner estranged from God, so that you might spend eternity in the family of God.
This means that all who trust in Jesus for redemption have hope, for we know that our Redeemer will always provide for His people. I do not know all you have gone through in your life, nor all you’re going through right now. But I do know this: God knows and is able to bring His people from death to life. God is able to bring you from curse to blessing. God is able to bring you from bitterness to happiness. God is able to bring you from emptiness to fullness. God is able to bring you from despair to hope. Which means we can trust Him in the worst of times, in the days and the months and the years when we may not understand and when we may wonder why.
I think about so many different circumstances I know people in our church family have walked through this last year, wondering why, wondering, “How will things ever get better?” Some days we may see little or no hope on the horizon, but we can know in those moments when God seems farthest from us that God is faithfully plotting for our good, for our joy. His path to our joy may not always be straight. It may not always be smooth. But in the end, His path to our joy is always sure. His path to your joy is guaranteed.
This may not mean that every story and every struggle in our lives will end up perfectly in this world, but that’s the point, because this world is not the end of our story. There’s a reason why Job, in the midst of his pain and suffering, said in Job 19:25-28, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”
We Will See Our Redeemer’s Face
There is coming a day when we will see our Redeemer’s face, when He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and we will be with Him forever and ever. We can trust God in the worst of times because we know the best of times are yet to come. We have hope, for we know our Redeemer will always provide for His people. So we spread hope for we know that our Redeemer is actively pursuing all peoples.
Don’t miss the point, because this love story is bigger than just you or me. The book of Ruth is not just a story about God’s love for one Moabite woman. It’s a story about God’s love for every woman and man in the world, for people in need all around the world, for people who are hurting in every neighborhood and for people who are longing for hope in every nation. For every single person and every single people group on the planet, we have the greatest news in the world: there is hope in Jesus, the Redeemer. There is hope for redemption, new life, blessing, happiness and fullness that lasts forever.
So church, let’s spread this hope—starting right where we live. Let me ask, “Who have you invited to come with you to church on Christmas Eve? Who have you invited who does not know Christ?” Far more important than family traditions is seeing people come to faith in Christ forever. We have ten options across all our campuses where we’re proclaiming hope.
We’ll invite people to be baptized, just like we did at Easter and do every week. Why? Because we have the greatest story in the world to share—a story of hope for all who trust in Jesus. So let’s spread this story. Invite friends, family members and coworkers to come with you Christmas Eve. Throughout this next week, you and I will have countless opportunities to share hope through the story of Jesus, so let’s do it.
Putting Ourselves into a Greater Story
Then let’s not stop this week. Let’s spend our lives spreading hope in a hurting world, whether it’s with our neighbor across the street, our coworker in the office next door, the orphan in need of a family in Ethiopia, the man or woman in the Himalayas who’s never even heard the gospel. We need to realize that when we spread hope, God is using our lives to change others’ stories. Don’t miss the beauty here. Ruth, Boaz and Naomi had no idea how their lives would be part of a story so astounding. They were part of a story that was so much greater than themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, so are you right now.
Some of you have never put your trust in Jesus as your Redeemer, but today you have an opportunity to do that. Today you have an opportunity to change your story forever. I mentioned earlier that it’s no accident that you are here right now. God has brought some of you here today to see that you have been pursued by God Himself. Jesus has made a way for you to be redeemed; He wants to change your story today forever.
Not just your story, but He wants to change the stories of others through your life as you spread hope. I think about the work in Ethiopia we celebrated earlier. There are children who are living, churches that are thriving and a movement that is happening in a country 7,000 miles away from here because of the way God is using you to spread hope. It makes me wonder, as I look across this church, what kind of massive postscript might be written when over 10,000 people here throw aside the pleasures, pursuits and possessions of this world, spending our lives in making the hope of our God known in a hurting world.
God’s Extraordinary end to Ruth 3 and 4
As we come to the end of Ruth, we can realize that God is using our ordinary lives to write an extraordinary story. McLean Bible Church family, let’s hold fast to the hope we have, even in the hardest of times. Let’s hold fast to hope and give our lives spreading that hope, here in Greater Washington, DC and to the ends of the earth. As we do this, let’s see what God does far beyond what we could imagine.
I’m going to ask you to bow your heads and close your eyes with me. Just between you and God, have you trusted in Jesus as your Redeemer? Have you trusted in Jesus to give you new life, to save you from your sin, to give you the hope of eternal life in Him, to lead you as Lord of your life? If the answer is not a resounding “Yes!” in your heart, then I want to invite you today to trust in Jesus as Redeemer, to see that God has brought you here to this moment for this reason, that you might know His redemption.
I want to invite you to pray right now, saying in your heart, “Dear God, I know I am a sinner, that I have sinned against You and I’m separated from You. But today I believe that You have sought after me. Today I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sin and that He rose from the grave in victory over sin and death. Today I trust in Him as my Lord and my Redeemer. Give me new life in Him—now and forever.”
If you just prayed that to God, with our heads still bowed and eyes closed, let me ask you to lift up your hand before God right now, saying, “Yes, today I’m trusting in Jesus as my Redeemer.” Amen.
O God, I praise You for the hands I see and the hands I can’t see. You see every hand and every heart. Thank You for Your love for us and specifically for these who are receiving Your love personally in this way today. I praise You for drawing them to Yourself and drawing so many of us to Yourself by Your grace. I pray You would give them and others who have not been baptized yet the courage to publicly say today, “Yes, Jesus is my Redeemer.” Give them the courage to be baptized to make that profession public.
God, at the same time, I pray for every person in the sound of my voice that they would know Your love as Redeemer day after day after day after day. I pray particularly for those who have walked through really hard days this last year, for some who are walking through really hard days right now and for some who have been walking through hard days for a long time. I pray that they would know Your fullness, joy and peace. I pray they would experience Your life and love that supersedes circumstances. I pray that You would give them faith to trust You when it seems like there are so many questions and so much confusion about when or how this is ever going to be resolved. God, I pray that You would give them faith as they look to You, knowing You are with them and that You are working moment by moment, day by day, for their good. Draw them into deeper and deeper intimacy with You, trusting You and experiencing Your love.
We long for the day when our redemption will be complete, when sin and suffering will be no more. God, we pray that You would use us from this day until that day to spread hope even in the midst of suffering, hope that there is a King and Redeemer Who has conquered sin and suffering and death. Use us to make this story of hope known to people right around us, so that coworkers and family members would come to know the hope of Christ this Christmas week. Please God, bring it about, around our tables, in our Christmas Eve gatherings and in the days to come. Then next year, would You use us to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine for the spread of Your hope and Your glory as our Redeemer, here in Greater Washington, DC, and among the nations. We pray this in the name of Jesus, our Redeemer. Amen.
Question 1. Why are there requirements for a redeemer?
Question 2. Describe Jesus in relationship to the requirements of a redeemer. What are some ways that He shows He is qualified to redeem?
Question 3. How does the story of Ruth point us to Jesus?
Question 4. According to the sermon, why can we trust God in the worst of times?
Question 5. How does the story of Ruth give us confidence that God is using ordinary lives to write an extraordinary story?
RUTH 3:6- 4:22
So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” And he said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I. Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the LORD lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.” So she lay at his feet until the morning, but arose before one could recognize another. And he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” And he said, “Bring the garment you are wearing and hold it out.” So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley and put it on her. Then she went into the city. And when she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did you fare, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said to me, ‘You must not go back empty-handed to your mother-in-law.’” She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today.” Now Boaz had gone up to the gate and sat down there. And behold, the redeemer, of whom Boaz had spoken, came by. So Boaz said, “Turn aside, friend; sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. And he took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. Then he said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, is selling the parcel of land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. So I thought I would tell you of it and say, ‘Buy it in the presence of those sitting here and in the presence of the elders of my people.’ If you will redeem it, redeem it. But if you will not, tell me, that I may know, for there is no one besides you to redeem it, and I come after you.” And he said, “I will redeem it.” Then Boaz said, “The day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead, in order to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance.” Then the redeemer said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I impair my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption yourself, for I cannot redeem it.” Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one drew off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was the manner of attesting in Israel. So when the redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself,” he drew off his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.” Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah because of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.” So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron, Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, Salmon, fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.
REQUIREMENTS OF A REDEEMER
One must have the right to redeem
One must have the resources to redeem
One must have the resolve to redeem
PICTURE OF REDEMPTION
God brings His people from death to life
God brings His people from curse to blessings
God brings His people from bitterness to happiness
God brings His people from emptiness to fullness
God brings His people from despair to hope
OUR HOPE OF REDEMPTION
The story of Ruth ultimately points us to the love of Jesus, our Redeemer.
We have hope for we know that our Redeemer will always provide for His People.
We can trust Him in the worst of times.
I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes, I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
OUR HOPE OF REDEMPTION
We spread hope, for we know that our Redeemer is actively pursuing all people.
GOD IS USING OUR ORDINARY LIVES TO WRITE AN EXTRAORDINARY STORY.